SimplyForties  made a comment in the forums  about how she made her own dog food, an idea I had never considered. Naturally, I turned to the power of Google to help enlighten me how whether making our own dog food made sense. I know a lot of people that feed their dogs human food but we wanted to avoid that because it’s difficult to regulate nutrition through human food. With dog food, it’s a lot easier because you know almost exactly how much nutrition is in each serving.
Why Make Dog Food?
The main reason for making your own dog food isn’t because it’s cheaper, it’s because you can better control what your dog is eating. If your dog has allergies or other specific health needs, you can tailor the food so that it best fits your dog’s needs. Part of the appeal is also in the idea that you aren’t buying a mass produced product and making your own at home. The pros of making your own are much like making your own detergent, you’re not really saving money but you are producing a better product you know will fit your unique needs.
Why You Shouldn’t
It takes time to make and prepare and can sometimes be more expensive than the mass produced dry dog food you can pick up in the store. Just as a tailored diet is a benefit, you need to spend the time to learn what that tailored diet should include. Just giving your dog some scraps and expected the dog to be healthy and balanced is risky. Finally, you can be assured that nothing dangerous is knowingly put into manufactured dog food (one can never be sure though), whereas you could happily toss in some onions without knowing it’s bad for your dog.
Making Your Own Dog Food
Did you know that Allrecipes has a section just for homemade pet food? Yep! It contains a bunch of recipes  you might want to check out.
Ingredients: All recipes will recommend that you have one type of meat, one or two types of vegetables, and one starch.
- With meat, you can use the things you expected – chicken, turkey, beef, pork, etc. Many places do warn that you can use organ meats but not too many, no more than 10% of the meat, because they tend to be very high in various vitamins. For example, liver contains a lot of oil soluble vitamin A that can cause kidney stones.
- For veggies, many places recommend tomatoes, carrots, green beans, and peas (ground up if possible). (Don’t use broccoli, it’s difficult to digest)
- For starches, your options are usually potatoes and/or rice.
Cooking: Cooking is pretty straight forward. With the meat, you’ll want to remove all the bones and cut the meat down into smaller sizes. Then just cook it in the pan with some water or chicken broth. Avoid frying with too much oil, your dog won’t be able to tell it’s been toasted in some extra virgin olive oil. 🙂 As for the vegetables and starch, just steam or cook them as you probably would for yourself.
Add-Ins: Up until now it seems like everything seems a little boring and straight forward right? Well, you can always add in a bunch of supplements or vitamins, here are some ideas I found online:
- Codliver or flaxseed oil in small amounts, gives them omega 3 and helps keep their coats shiny.
- Eggshells can be crunched up to add some calcium.
- Garlic (in small amounts!) can fight off tape worms and fleas
Here’s where it gets interesting. You can mix all of your cooked ingredients together or keep them separate and portion them out as you need them. As you’ll soon see, here’s one of the downsides of cooking your own dog food – you have to store it in the refrigerator! It also gets to be difficult deciding portion size but that’s where your vet can help you. The next time you go for a visit, ask about making your own food and how much your little guy will likely need. Another approach is to feed what you think is appropriate and monitor your dog’s weight and activity. If it begins to fall, feed a little more. If he or she becomes a little fatty, then feed less.
(Photo: madcitycat )